Brian returns from USA with 10th medal

Brian Hil, left, and Derek Holmes. Photo: John Coldcut.
Brian Hil, left, and Derek Holmes. Photo: John Coldcut.

Brian Hill claimed his 10th world table tennis medal when competing in the USA last month.

The 74-year-old claimed bronze with partner Derek Holmes at the World Veteran Championships, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Brian now has four silvers and six bronzes to his name, and has set his sights on claiming that elusive first gold in France in two years’ time.

This year the English duo won through three group and four knockout rounds before being beaten 11-5, 11-8. 13-11 from Slovakian Karol Korbel and Malaysian Tiing Sik Ling.

“Korbel was a very good player, and sometimes you just have to say the other players deserved to win,” said Brian, who won four national doubles titles over the past 12 months, despite being hampered by injury.

“But I did let him know that, as he’s only 70, he’s one of the young ones.”

However, the English pair - who first played together representing the county at a Six Nations event in Scotland six years ago and realised they clicked straight away - ended their stay in Nevada on a high by booking their place on the podium.

In the singles, Brian’s run of singles wins was halted by Russia’s Dmirty Davidenko in four.

Brian, from Wyberton, first competed at the sport’s World Championships 24 years ago, a journey which has seen him compete in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Mongolia.

But just when he thought he had seen it all he was met with a welcome surprise in Las Vegas.

“A gentleman came up to me and shook my hand and said ‘I bet you don’t know who I am?’,” Brian said.

“Then he told me his name was Louis Kerekes and instantly I know who he was.”

Indeed, Louis was Brian’s coach as long ago as 1960, helping the teenager hone his game at the tables at Skegness’ Butlins resort.

The tournament was also a family affair as Brian’s wife Audrey - who also speaks French and Spanish - put her language skills to use by acting as a competition volunteer.